Since it’s featured in the title of this blog I figured I’d go ahead and write about the significance of it.
I’ve always been pretty fascinated by the phenomenon of mentalism. I probably first came across it in the film series Now You See Me. For those of you who are not in the know, it is a series of films, two at current, that follows a group of magicians who were once all standalone acts working the magic circuit, brought together by a secret organisation within the magic world, The Eye. They have been brought together to prove they are worthy of joining the organisation.
Woody Harrelson plays the role of Meritt McKinney, who, if you haven’t guessed already, is a mentalist in the film.
He does a lot of cool tricks in these films and it’s probably through him that I really fell in love with the idea of Mentalism. Being able to manipulate over people simply through the powers of suggestion, observation and even hypnotism.
Whilst I haven’t learned how to do the last one yet, I have a good enough understanding of the other two and I have come to actually use them over the last few weeks. For what purpose you ask? Well I didn’t exactly rob a bank like the four horsemen. Instead I did something a little less crazy and maybe even cooler; I made some friends.
So long story short I did some volunteering with a local organisation recently and whilst doing that I had to interact with people I didn’t know and had never met before. The first day or so was kind of dodgy and it passed without me really getting to know anyone or any one person really talking to me.
So I thought, hey I’ve been studying this mentalism stuff for a bit now, maybe I could try some of that stuff out on them.
So the second day I make my first mark. Nothing too major. I simply told a guy what football team he supported. I made some deductions and based on them I wrote down my prediction in the notes app on my iPhone.
“Hey man you follow soccer?”
Which obviously I knew already.
Then I proceeded to get the meat of the question.
“What team do you support?”
“Oh that’s funny, cause I actually predicted that blah, blah, yadda, yadda….” I show him my prediction of Liverpool on my phone. Boom, my first victim.
The same day I do it a second time, but with a different person obviously. Another guy who’s a couple years older than the first.
I make my deductions and my prediction and start off with the same question as before.
“You follow soccer?”
This time I decide to be straight forward and say..
“You support Arsenal don’t you?”
Boom. Victim number two.
And incase you’re wondering, which no doubt you are, how I made these predictions, they weren’t wearing anything like a jersey or shorts that could tell me this. I had to make deductions about their personality and lifestyle, etc.
Deduction is a key asset in a mentalist’s bag of tricks. Simply by observing your subject for a minute or so you can pick up a lot of juicy information about them if you know what to look for.
So anyway, I do this very small and basic effect on these two people and immediately it helps build rapport with one of them. We get talking and it turns out he’s a really interesting person. More over because of my little trick with the football teams this guy is particularly interested in me and how I guessed what team he supported. Which I am very happy about because it would seem this guy is seen as very central to the whole social side of the volunteering. Not that he makes himself the centre of it but rather he is very well-respected by the other volunteers and well I hate to say it but he’s probably seen as maybe the leader of the cool kids.
If your familiar with the social hierarchy that you experienced back in school then this guy is probably at the top is what I’m trying to say.
“It’s early days yet and this is the result of doing a very basic trick?” I think.
Let’s see if we can have even more fun with this.
So I decide to play around with a slightly more difficult effect. It’s not too extravagant, but simple enough to leave the subject wondering, again, how it is you did it.
You ask the person three questions:
What’s your favourite colour?
If you could be any animal at all what would you be?
If you could anywhere in the world for a trip abroad where would you go?
You don’t have to do it in this order. It doesn’t matter.
I started by asking people I knew as a sort of litmus test. To see if I could nail their answers before I brought the trick to the other volunteers.
So I did it and got used to the whole operation, confident with asking the questions and making predictions.
The next day I have to volunteer I start asking a few people. I do one or two without telling the people my predictions, even if they are right. Just to hear some answers and get a general feel for them. And it’s exactly as I expected, completely random. I could have gotten anything from rose gold, to a koala bear and the Bahamas.
So I figure right, I’m not going to be able to nail these questions by only making deductions. The odds are too slim of me getting the answers right. So I’m going to have to stage it. To a degree anyway.
Now this isn’t what you think, I didn’t pick a person and take them off to one side and tell them what to say. Not exactly.
This is going to sound insane but what I did is I tweaked the questions a little, made a prediction and implanted the answers into my subjects brain by using the power of suggestion.
The day before I perform the trick I select victim number three from the usual group of volunteers that gather in the morning before work starts. I know that she will be there at the same time tomorrow.
The questions I plan on asking are..
What’s your favourite colour?
If you could go for a trip abroad anywhere in the world, where would you go? \
Would you go by boat or plane?
What’s the craziest thing you’d do while you were there?
A little more difficult to predict then the first three questions huh. But if you know what you’re doing you can make accurate predictions.
So I determine that her favourite colour is blue through use of deduction.
I say that the craziest thing she would do whilst she was there would be a sky dive.
I say she doesn’t like boats so she would go by plane, hence the sky dive.
And I pick a random country to implant in her brain.
I say Thailand.
Completely random right?
This part I’m going to have to share with you guys because it sounds a little dubious otherwise.
Picture this, the sun is shining, a rare occurrence in 2017 Ireland, it’s warm so our morning group is gathered together around a bench outside.
I chit-chat quietly with the people who have arrived as I was the first one there.
Then right on cue my chosen subject arrives.
So I let her sit down and start talking. She’s roughly the same age as me, maybe I’m slightly older.
So then we get onto the topic of the weather. And I begin secretly implanting the information in her brain.
“What a clear blue sky we have today.”
“Yeah it’s lovely.”
“Pity. The Heat Around Ireland Lingers A Number of Days and then it’s gone.”
Boom that’s it. I’m ready to rock and roll.
The sun goes in, we head inside because it’s warmer.
Funnily enough, it all starts with the cool guy I mentioned above.
As if on cue he asks “Do you have any magic today?”.
And I say, “yeah, I actually do.”
Even better I don’t have to introduce the trick or anything because another volunteer says “Do the one with the questions.”
This is surprisingly going much more smoothly then I had in mind. I guess here goes a try.
I ask the first question.
What do answer do I get back?
I ask the next question.
What answer do I get back?
A sky dive.
I could let her down gently and say well I did predict that blah, blah, yadda, yadda.
So instead I put a more dramatic conclusion in to play that I had devised the day before.
“Now as you can see my phone has been on this table this whole time, right?”
“There is no way I could have touched it or interacted with it in any way without you noticing, correct?”
I open up my phone, go to my camera-roll where I have three specific photos saved.
The first photo I show the girl is a photo I have saved of a travel guide to Thailand.
I say “Is this the same Thailand you said you’d like to go to for a trip abroad?”
I scroll to the picture beside it. It has the word Thailand in it with a bright brilliant blue sky in the background and lots of boats in the foreground.
I say “is this the same blue that is your favourite colour?”
“Are these the boats that you have an aversion to? The reason why you decided to go on a plane instead?”
She gasps. Another girl beside her says “oh my god.” The boy sitting on her other side says “Wow.”
I let it air for a second and I scroll again the final photo.
At first glance it’s just a sign that says Thailand on it. But I zoom in to a blurry section of yellow that is unmistakably a parachute and I say, “finally is this the sky dive you hypothetically intended on doing whilst you were in Thailand?”.
Everyone could see the photos.
Everyone was shocked into silence. Even more so the subject I did the effect on.
I could have written down my predictions in the notes app on my phone but where’s the fun in that? The photos just turned an average effect in to almost Dynamo or a David Blaine type stunt. Well maybe not that much, but you get the picture.
The rest of the week, I could feel the effort the rest of the volunteers made to speak to me and interact with me. Especially the subject on which I performed the trick. She just couldn’t get over it. Which was the desired effect obviously.
Instead of having an awkward tea break I got to answer all sorts of interesting questions all stemming back to the mentalism acts and the topic itself. I actually got to do some cold reading, whereby I made some more deductions about the people there and seen if I was right about them. Fun to do and easy to get right. I could just feel my status with the group elevate to a higher level. Which is exactly what I wanted mentalism to do for me.
I see now that this has been a very long post so let me finish with this:
You ever want to gain some footing with a group of new people you’ve recently met? Do a little magic, if you know how. Believe me. It works a treat!
These are the photos I used in the effect if any of you are curious. When it comes to magic there’s always a few.